It takes a certain amount of nerve to pile all the commercialism of the Christmas season onto the most sacred of symbols, Santa Claus. To make things even worse, Eric Bogle's "Santa Bloody Claus" is bloody funny. This political/social agenda rears its head throughout By Request, sometimes with biting satire, sometimes without it. Bogle is a Scottish native who immigrated to Australia in 1969 and by 1980 had quit his job to pursue a musical career. "Silly Slang Song" focuses its attention on numerous words -- gay, coke, swinging -- that once had purely innocent meanings, while the wicked "He's Nobody's Moggy Now" is sure to bring a tear to the eye of anyone who has ever lost a pet to a moving vehicle. "Big in a Small Way" wryly tells the tale of an entertainer who clears a space on his wall for awards that never materialize. Humor turns to pathos in "And the Band Played Waltzing Matilda," Bogle's 1972 anti-war anthem that was later recorded by June Tabor and the Clancy Brothers. It tells the story of a soldier who has lost both of his legs in a war. He's glad when he returns home that no one is waiting for him, and he doesn't understand why other soldiers continue to celebrate past "glories." Other classics include "No Man's Land," "Now I'm Easy," and "Leaving Nancy." These are all lovingly performed and moving pieces of song craft. At 68 minutes, By Request is a generous collection of Bogle's songs that will be welcomed by old fans and anyone who enjoys heartfelt and often funny songs.
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AllMusic Review by Ronnie D. Lankford, Jr.